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Congress faces nepotism charges after release of mayoral candidate list in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath addresses a press conference at party headquarters in Bhopal, on June 9, 2022. File

Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath addresses a press conference at party headquarters in Bhopal, on June 9, 2022. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Three sitting MLAs, a spouse each of a sitting MLA and a former MLA, and many either holding organisational posts or related to those who do: Udaipur Chintan Shivir proposals such as ‘one person, one post’ and ‘one family, one ticket’ seemed to have taken a back seat in the list of mayoral candidates announced by the Congress for the civic body elections in Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier on Thursday evening, the party announced its list for 15 of the 16 municipal corporations that go to polls, alongside other urban bodies, next month. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is ruling all the 16 corporations, is yet to announce its list.

Among the 15, Sanjay Shukla from Indore, Siddharth Kushwaha from Satna and Mahesh Parmar from Ujjain are sitting MLAs. Shobha Sikarwar from Gwalior is the wife of MLA Satish Sikarwar while Nidhi Jain (wife of former MLA Sunil Jain) has been fielded from Sagar. These selections have raised eyebrows with allegations of nepotism and favouritism coming to haunt the Congress, both from within as well as the BJP.

Kamal Nath’s backing

Endorsing his party’s candidates, Pradesh Congress Committee president and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Friday tweeted, “The public servants of your city, who are concerned with you, have been entrusted to you with hope and confidence as mayoral candidates”. At least 13 of the 15 candidates are said to have his backing following hectic parleys over candidate selection over the last fortnight. Another former Chief Minister and senior party leader Digvijaya Singh, however, took to Twitter to deny such reports and claim that the party was united.

Voices of dissent have surfaced with aspirants like Shanti Kushwaha from Gwalior staging a sit-in outside Mr. Kamal Nath’s bungalow in Bhopal being denied a ticket “despite assurances”, and Preeti Singh Rathore resigning from all party posts after being overlooked from Burhanpur. In Burhanpur, the Congress has fielded Shahnaz Ansari, the lone Muslim face in the list.

The name of Vibha Patel — who last won a mayoral election in 1999 — as the candidate from Bhopal also raised eyebrows, with some party workers saying that at a time when the party talked about giving more representation to the youth in the Chintan Shivir last month, her selection gave the message that the party had failed to groom a new leader in two decades.

A party spokesperson, who did not wish to be identified, said the focus for the party was winnability. “There are many factors that improve the prospects. We wanted people who are deeply rooted in the Congress’ ideology and were strong enough not to be cowed into submission by the BJP’s pressure tactics such as threatening to use bulldozers. Also, they need to be resourceful at a time when we have to take on not just the BJP’s organisational might but also deep pockets.”


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Printable version | Aug 15, 2022 3:22:07 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-faces-nepotism-charges-after-release-of-mayoral-candidate-list-in-madhya-pradesh/article65515018.ece